By Kassi Berg
Typhoon Bopha: What Makes It So Unusual?
Super Typhoon Bopha defied predictions and precedent. It was a record-breaking typhoon from the start.
Typhoon Bopha, healing which began as a tropical cyclone, cheap formed unusually close to the equator where most cyclones are unable to piggy-back on the Earth’s rotational force enough to actually get themselves spinning. But, on November 30, 2012, at 3.8 degrees north of the equator, Bopha got itself spinning and did so almost a month outside of typhoon “season.”
If that weren’t enough, Bopha broke the record that was set 32 years ago as the most southernly typhoon ever recorded. Bopha also boasts second place as the closest-to-equator category-five equivalent typhoon ever recorded.
But, all of that is dwarfed by its most spectacular surprise – its last minute deviation from its intended target, the Republic of Palau. No theories to date justify Bopha’s mystifying jog to the west, which ultimately set this mammoth typhoon due south of Palau. Some claim it was a high-pressure system in Japan that drove Bopha just enough west to put Palau out of total ruination, but no meteorologists have yet confirmed this. Dr. Jeff Masters, meteorologist and co-founder of The Weather Underground, Inc, explained that “Bopha was a small typhoon [in diameter], and small storms like that are prone to jogs in their path when they encounter weak atmospheric distubances along the way that larger storms would just plow through and not feel.”
Many locals say it was auspicious and that they were confident from the start that Palau would escape devastation. According to local legend there is an elderly man in Kayangel, Palau’s most northern island, who uses a giant magical oar to ward off storms. This magical weather oar, so to speak, is featured on Kayangel’s State flag. History certainly supports the notion that Palau’s land and its people have been unusually blessed.
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